I met Paul Ryan (R) Wisconsin while boarding United Airlines flight 621 from Washington Reagan National Airport. Actually, as I was boarding he came up and said, in a hurry, “this is the flight, right?” And I thought “he looks like Paul Ryan,” then I realized he was.
So, having just talked to retiring Illinois Senator Roland Burris, who boarded the same flight, I asked Paul if I could interview him, and Congressman Ryan said “yes.” But we, for some reason, started talking about sports, and the Packers and Chicago Bears, before I started the video!
That explains the immediate subject jump from the Inauguration to the Packers. Off camera we had a cool banter going about the Packers, so I was trying to pick that up again in the video.
For example, in response to my question about the Inauguration, Ryan said “It was good. It was nice. A lot warmer than the last one,” but then I switched to football.
I was so focused on interviewing him, and deliberately wanted to keep it light, that I forgot to give the gate agent my ticket as I was walking; Ryan pointed that out, as you can see in the video. So, I did.
Afterward, when I caught up with him in the line of people boarding the plane, Congressman Ryan said “No more of these,” meaning the video. I said “No problem,” so we just talked. I told him that I was a blogger, and my coverage was multimedia in nature, but we only talked about that for a second or two.
We talked mostly about NFL Football, and specifically the Green Bay Packers and The Chicago Bears. Ryan expressed surprise that the Bears let now former Head Coach Lovie Smith go saying “Lovie Smith? How about that?” I said it was very sad, but that I also like the new coach Marc Trestman.
Just about that time, a small group of fellow travelers, all male, some white, some black, about five in number, all took photos with Ryan. Paul was really in his element, and it’s clear he enjoys people. I said, jokingly, that I would hold the plane for him, but Ryan took me seriously, saying “Oh, don’t do that at all.”
“No, dude,” I said, “I was kidding.” But Ryan remarked that some people actually do that, and he’s not one of them.
He’s a cool guy, and I told him that he was not the person he appears to be in the media view. “Thank, Ryan said, “I appreciate that.” Which means, to me, that he’s acutely aware of his negative public image. I even got after him about his “anchor babies” comment in a video during the campaign. But that was political war; it’s over and we won; time for normalcy. If Ryan will just get out there and be himself, he’ll undo the damage the Romney campaign did to him in about a year.
I’ve come to the conclusion that this idea of GOP and Democrats not working together is fueled by the media as much as it may be Congress. The people who regularly cover Washington politics should be flogged for the damage they cause by not demanding better political relationships, and then working to make them. Fox News has wrecked America; it’s time to get it back – we can do that by ignoring Fox News and GOP talk radio, for starters.
As he was taking pictures, I asked if he was going to run for President. At first he shook his head no, turned back to the camera, and then suddenly turned again and said “It’s too early for that.” I take that to mean he’s going to give it serious consideration as next two years advance.
As we continued toward the plane’s door, I said “I thought you might become Speaker (of the House). “Well,” Paul deadpanned, “You have to want the job, first. You know?”
But the other good points the Congressman gave were around P90X, the training program that was already popular, but became more so when Rep. Ryan was the GOP VP candidate last year. I mentioned that I had started trying it, to which he launched into a great paragraph of advice: “Make sure you work out to avoid ‘plateauing.’ Try different exercises to shock your body.” Ryan then said that he started doing the ‘Insanity’ workout and had high praise for it’s creator, Shaun T.
As we boarded the plane, Ryan talked more about the Packers and how he felt they needed a new defensive scheme. I mentioned that I’m not a fan of the 3-4 defense because of what’s called “the bubble” area between inside linebackers and linepeople; Ryan perked up at that comment and agreed.
As we made our way down the aisle and toward economy class, it was clear Ryan’s an A-list celebrity politician (he hates being called that). One passenger said “I’m glad there’s at least one Republican on this flight.” I couldn’t help myself, and chimed in “Well, didn’t you hear? Ryan’s switched parties. He’s a Dem!” The look of momentary shock on the man’s face was priceless!